Tag Archives: suspense

Socialite Suspense

Book 1, chapter 13

My chapter notes:

Gus Trenor tricks Lily Bart into coming over.  He wants “payment” for the money he gave her.  Lily Bart hates herself for allowing the situation to happen.  She’s afraid.  Her normal man-tricks aren’t working on Trenor.  Eventually Trenor remembers his proper upbringing, and Lily Bart leaves the home.  A mysterious stranger (who we find out in the next chapter is Selden) sees her leaving the Trenor home at an improper hour when the lady of the house is not there.

**** This reminds me of Crime and Punishment!  When Svidrigailov meets up with Dounia and reveals that her brother Raskolnikov is a murderer.

I think this is HoM’s most suspenseful chapter.
How did this chapter make you feel about GusTrenor?


Posted by on May 19, 2013 in The House of Mirth


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Like sand through the hourglass, so are the days…

Part IV, chapter 4

This is the chapter where Raskolnikov torments Sonia about her occupation, about the future of her step-siblings when Katerina Ivanovna dies, and about who killed Lizaveta.

It’s also the chapter where the prostitute reads the Bible with the murderer.

But it’s the ending that reminded me of the days way, way back in my past when I used to watch a soap opera.  Do they still call them that now?  A daytime drama?

The last paragraph of this chapter was the shocker.  This intimate conversation between Raskolnikov and Sonia was overheard.  This is where the tv camera pans across the set, through the walls of Sonia’s room to the next apartment to reveal..

On the other side of the door on the right, which divided Sonia’s room from Madame Resslich’s flat, was a room which had long stood empty.  A card was fixed on the gate and a notice stuck in the windows over the canal advertising it to let.  Sonia had long been accustomed to the room’s being uninhabited.

And in the dark room, there’s just enough light for the tv viewer to make out the figure of a man.

Who?  Who heard all that they said?

But all that time Mr. Svidrigaïlov had been standing, listening at the door of the empty room.



Not him!  Oh, no.  Not Dounia’s former employer.  Not the man who very likely caused his own wife’s death.  Not the man who has an obsession with Rask’s sister and who seems to have come to St. Petersburg with questionable motives.

This is where the theme music plays and the soap opera ends with a shot of threatening Mr. Svid, standing with his ear to the door, hearing all Rask has said and half-smiling in that creepy, bad-guy way that villains do.

Oh, Dostoyevsky.  You’ve done it again with your dramatic, suspenseful chapter-ending.  This one made me want to say, “Tune in tomorrow to find out if Rask reveals he’s Lizaveta’s murderer and to find out what Svidrigaïlov will do with his new-found information.”


Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Crime and Punishment


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Unknown Gentleman

Crime and Punishment Part III, chapter 4

Sonia has asked Rask to come to the memorial dinner for her father  (Wasn’t Marm’s death sad and disturbing?).  On her way home, she’s followed by an “unknown gentleman”.

The man is described as a well-dressed fifty-year-old with light hair and beard.  His healthy coloring shows that he’s a visitor to St. Petersburg.  “His eyes were blue and had a cold and thoughtful look.”

In the margin of my book I wrote, “Who is this man?”  “Is it Porfiry?”

He follows Sonia all the way to her door where both Sonia and the reader are told that he’s renting a room right next door.  Oh, I was afraid for Sonia.  Those cold eyes had me worried.  Did you like how Dostoyevsky let us finish the chapter not knowing the man’s identity?  He’s a sneaky one that Russian author is, and he seems to enjoy leaving his readers in suspense.

Did you know who the mysterious stranger was?
or like me… did you have to keep reading?


Posted by on August 25, 2012 in Crime and Punishment


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Crime and Punishment Part I chapter 6

Raskolnikov has the axe hanging from the loop of fabric sewn into his coat.  With his mind distracted, he has walked to the house and rung the bell, knowing that  the pawn broker Alyona Ivanovna is waiting just on the other side.

He moved a little on purpose and muttered something aloud that he might not have the appearance of hiding, then rang a third time, but quietly, soberly and without impatience.  Recalling it afterwards, that moment stood out in his mind vividly, distinctly, for ever; he could not make out how he had had such cunning, for his mind was as it were clouded at moments and he was almost unconscious of his body…An instant later he heard the latch unfastened.

Dostoyevsy, it was at this part of your novel that you finally piqued my interest in your story.  I could hear Raskolnikov’s pounding heart.  I could see Alyona’s cautious hand.  Your well-crafted chapter ending had me anxious to continue reading.  Keep up the good work.


Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Crime and Punishment


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